Monday, January 19, 2009

Global warming may cut protein in plants

New Zealand Herald: Plants may give us fewer of the nutrients we need to survive if global warming is not controlled, a visiting expert says. Fossil expert Dr Scott Wing, who was in New Zealand to speak at the Greenhouse Earth Symposium at Te Papa last week, said a study suggested ancient plants may have made less protein as CO2 levels rose.

If the theory is correct, insects were left hungrier when plants made less of the protein they needed to live. The phenomenon could affect humans if plants begin cutting protein again. Fossil records show insects began eating more plants about 55 million years ago, when the planet suddenly warmed up.

Dr Wing, who is the curator of fossil plants at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, acknowledged there may have been more insects around to eat the plants. "We don't know this yet, but it could be that the increase in feeding was a response to both the warming and a change in atmosphere itself."….

Botanical drawings of fossil plants (1709) by Johann Jakob Scheuchzer

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